The Hurry Up: Onside Kicking in the IFL

“The Hurry Up” is Shawn "Coach of the Fans" Liotta's weekly blog with information from his coaching experience, film study and conversations with industry leaders that may be pertinent to current trends and strategy in the Indoor Football League. It will give fans a greater insight into the game.

Want to call an onside kick on every kickoff? While onside kicks are a very aggressive and attacking strategy, it may not be the most sound strategy for a number of factors.

During my film study of the 2016 IFL season, I reviewed 522 total kickoffs, only 11 of which were onside kick attempts. This accounted for just two percent of all kickoffs. And only two out of 11 of the onside kicks were successfully recovered legally by the kicking team, or less than 20 percent.

The IFL rules and gameplay varies greatly from the Arena Football League (AFL), where frequent onside kicks are attempted due to the compression of the field in the scoring zone and difficulty in running the football due to a numbers advantage and crowded box for the defense.

The onside kick is frequently seen in the AFL in final minute of each half as coaches jockey to manage the clock and ensure they will have the ball last to score or to “steal” a possession before the end of the first half. This strategy can quickly backfire in the IFL if your opponent is able to recover the onside kick attempt around the 10-yard line with four downs to score.

At a minimum the offense can run the ball with a numbers advantage and would only have to average 2.5 yards per rush to score. This can lead to quick touchdowns, devastating loss of field position or a higher-percentage field-goal attempt. IFL offenses are very adept at scoring when given the football inside the opponents 10-yard line, but this is a FANchise and the call on whether to attempt the onside kick, kickoff, or squib kick will be in YOUR hands. I’m just here to give you the right tools to make an informed decision.

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